Part two: case summaries by major topic.

Position:P. 33-71
 
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1. ACCESS TO COURT

U.S. District Court Tafari v. McCarthy, 714 F.Supp.2d 317 (N.D.N.Y. LEGAL MAIL TRANSFER 2010). A state prisoner brought a [section] 1983 action against employees of the New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS), alleging, among other things, that the employees violated his constitutional rights by subjecting him to excessive force, destroying his personal property, denying him medical care, and subjecting him to inhumane conditions of confinement. The employees moved for summary judgment, and the prisoner moved to file a second amended complaint and to appoint counsel. According to the court, one incident in which state correctional officers allegedly interfered with the prisoner's outgoing legal mail did not create a cognizable claim under [section] 1983 for violation of the prisoner's First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, absent a showing that the prisoner suffered any actual injury, that his access to courts was chilled, or that his ability to legally represent himself was impaired. (New York State Department of Correctional Services, Eastern New York Correctional Facility) U.S. Appeals Court Torres v. O'Quinn, 612 F.3d 237 (4th Cir. 2010). PLRA- Prison An inmate brought an action against state prison Litigation Reform officials, complaining that the officials failed Act FILING FEES to repair a malfunctioning night-light in his prison cell, resulting in a disturbing strobe effect. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The inmate appealed and the appeals court affirmed. The inmate then brought a separate action against prison officials, alleging a constitutional violation due to the prison's prohibition of his subscription to commercially available pictures of nude women. The district court dismissed the action for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, the inmate appealed, and the appeals court dismissed the appeal. The inmate then moved for a partial refund of filing fees that had been collected from his prison trust account, challenging the prison's practice of withholding 40 percent of his account to satisfy the filing fee requirement for his two appeals. The appeals court found that PLRA required that no more than 20 percent of an inmate's monthly income be deducted to pay filing fees, irrespective of the total number of cases or appeals the inmate had pending at any one time. The court held that granting the inmate a partial refund of fees was not warranted since the amounts withheld from the inmate's account were actually owed and were properly, if excessively, collected. (Red Onion State Prison, Virginia) U.S. District Court Twisty v. Ashcroft, 712 F.Supp.2d 30 (D.Conn. VIDEO COMMUNICATION 2010). A federal prisoner, who brought an action TRANSPORTATION alleging that a state department of correction employee used excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment, moved for a writ of habeas corpus, requesting that Bureau of Prisons (BOP) transport him from Colorado to Connecticut to attend his civil trial. The district court denied the motion. The court held that expense and security concerns outweighed the prisoner's interest in physically appearing at the trial, precluding an issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. The court noted: (1) that it would cost the Bureau of Prisons about $70,000 to transport the prisoner from Colorado to Connecticut for the trial; (2) that he would be temporarily housed in a less secure facility than the one in Colorado; and (3) that transporting the prisoner between the facility and the courthouse, a trip of eighty miles in each direction, and supervising him during trial would require the assistance of multiple United States Marshals and presented a risk of escape, a risk of harm to law enforcement officers and danger to public. According to the court, the Colorado facility offered to permit the prisoner to appear at trial via videoconference, which was a reasonable alternative in the circumstances. (United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum, Florence, Colorado) U.S. District Court Varricchio v. County of Nassau, 702 F.Supp.2d 40 SPEEDY TRIAL (E.D.N.Y. 2010). A detainee brought a [section] 1983 action against a county and officials, alleging civil rights violations. The defendants moved for dismissal. The district court granted the motion in part and denied in part. The court held that the detainee adequately alleged that he was denied his right to a speedy trial and that he was presumptively prejudiced by the delay, as required to state a [section] 1983 claim for a Sixth Amendment violation. The detainee alleged he was held for two years in prison prior to receiving trial for the charge of violating a protective order, and that he was subsequently found not guilty. The court held that the detainee adequately alleged that his conditions of confinement constituted cruel and unusual punishment, as required to state an Eighth Amendment claim. The detainee alleged that he received tainted food that contained bodily waste, soap, metal pins, and staples, and that, when he went on a hunger strike to protest his legal situation, deputy sheriffs were taking bets on when he would start eating again. (Nassau County Sheriffs Department, New York) U.S. District Ward v. Rabideau, 732 F.Supp.2d 162 (W.D.N.Y. Court EXHAUSTION 2010). Jewish prison inmates at a state PLRA- Prison correctional facility brought a [section] 1983 Litigation Reform action against prison officials, alleging their Act First Amendment rights were violated by the defendants' failure to properly accommodate their religious needs. The defendants moved for summary judgment. The district court denied the motion. The court found that summary judgment was precluded by genuine issues of material fact as to whether "special circumstances" existed so as to excuse the two inmates' failure to exhaust administrative remedies, pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), prior to bringing a [section] 1983 action against prison officials. The court held that summary judgment was precluded by genuine issues of material fact as to whether a correctional officer treated Jewish prison inmates differently on account of their religion. The court also found a genuine issue of material fact as to whether cold alternative meals available in a state correctional institution violated the Jewish inmates' constitutional right to a kosher diet, pursuant to the inmates' rights to religious liberty under First Amendment. According to the court, summary judgment was precluded by a genuine issue of material fact as to whether prison officials prevented Jewish inmates from having materials necessary to their worship, on the inmates' claim that the officials failed to make reasonable accommodation to their religious beliefs in violation of the First Amendment, by not providing a rabbi or religious materials in the correctional facility. (Groveland Correctional Facility, New York) 2. ADMINISTRATION

US. District Court Ambat v. City and County of San Francisco, 693 EMPLOYEE DISCIPLINE F.Supp.2d 1130 (N.D.Cal. 2010). Sheriffs EMPLOYEE QUALIFICATIONS deputies brought an action against a city and POLICIES/PROCEDURES county, alleging various claims including retaliation, and that a gender based staffing policy violated Title VII and California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Cross-motions for summary judgment were filed. The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants in part, and denied in part. The court held that the sheriffs department policy that only female deputies would be assigned to female-only housing units was implemented to protect the interests that amount to the essence of the Sheriffs business, including safety and privacy, as required to establish a bona fide occupational qualification as a defense to the deputies' claims of employment discrimination under Title VII and California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The court noted that the policy was implemented to prevent sexual misconduct and inappropriate relationships between male deputies and female inmates, to alleviate male deputies' fears of false accusations of misconduct resulting in a reluctance to supervise female inmates closely, which created opportunities for smuggling and use of contraband, and to prevent female inmates from being required to dress and undress in front of male deputies. The court found that the sheriff was entitled to deference in his policy judgment to implement the department policy that only female deputies would be assigned to female-only housing units and in determining whether the policy was reasonably necessary to achieve issues of safety and privacy and to ensure normal operation of the jails, as required to establish a bona fide occupational qualification as a defense to the deputies' claims of employment discrimination under Title VII and California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The court noted that, despite not conducting formal studies or seeking consultation, the policy was based upon the sheriffs experience and observations over thirty years as sheriff and conversations with senior officials and jail commanders over several months. The court noted that suggested non-discriminatory alternatives to the sheriffs department policy, including cameras and additional training, were not feasible alternatives that furthered the objectives of safety, security and privacy, Installation of cameras in the units was cost-prohibitive and did not address privacy concerns or the fact that misconduct took place outside of the units, additional training would not eliminate sexual abuse since deputies already knew it was forbidden, and there was no effective testing or screening method to identify deputies who might engage in sexual misconduct. The court found that the fact that the deputy made statements to the National Academy of Arbitrators, alleging that...

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